“You’ll never make it on the mission field. Your wife is too protective of your daughter.” Two different pastors said these discouraging words to me our final month of deputation. Pearl had a severe case of colitis as an infant. She wasn’t thriving and was losing the mucous lining of her intestine. We were concerned soon after we brought her home from the hospital and she cried often inconsolably. Pearl was three months old when we started full-time deputation. After just two weeks on the road we were nearly in a panic when Sandy changed her diaper and it was full of blood and mucous. Through an act of providence Sandy learned about a high potency probiotic that slowly healed her mucous lining. During this time Pearl’s pediatrician warned us not to expose her to nurseries, large groups of people or anyone sick because of her compromised immunity. Needless to say this made traveling to between ten to 12 churches each month a challenge. The vast majority of pastors and churches were understanding as Sandy took precautions caring for our daughter but there were a few, like the two mentioned previously, that wrongly prognosticated our failure as missionaries to Italy based on her uncompromising protection as a mother.
We have been on the mission field for nearly three years. As we dropped Pearl off for her first day of kindergarten and Sandy kissed her good-bye I couldn’t help but recall the difficulties they faced together as we traveled America raising support from local churches. There was no consistent schedule, Pearl was stuck in a car-seat many days from 3 in the morning until the evening to get to the next meeting, no privacy, the difficulties nursing because Sandy was on a restricted diet due to Pearl’s digestive problems, not knowing if Pearl would be exposed to some illness, the awkward stares that sometimes occurred because Pearl wasn’t in the nursery, and then the few comments that we received of Sandy’s “over-protectiveness.”
Pearl is now a happy and healthy five year old. She is in her second year of Italian public school. The other day as we dropped her off she walked into class and sat down next to her teacher and put her arm around her. She has been kissed by more Italians than I can keep track of. She has adjusted to the culture phenomenally well. I am proud of my little girl and of her mother that has so sacrificially cared for her. After spending so much needed time with her I know it wasn’t easy for Sandy to let her go into the care of others, especially in a foreign culture and language. Time and again Sandy has left her worries and cares at the feet of her Saviour. One reason why I am able to make it on the mission field is because of my wife and her unrelenting love for her family and her tender faith in our Lord.